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Chelsea Transfer News: Latest on Raphael Varane, Mehdi Benatia and Romelu Lukaku

CORRECTS DATE - France's defender Raphael Varane answers journalists' questions during a press conference at the Teatro Pedro II, in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Having captured people's attention at the soccer World Cup with some scintillating attacking football, France's players are now in unknown territory after raising expectations back home, having routed Switzerland and Honduras. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
David Vincent/Associated Press
Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2014

Chelsea have begun their preseason tour in earnest, with new signing Filipe Luis making his debut for the Blues in their 1-1 draw against RZ Pellets WAC of Austria.

More comings and goings are expected during the transfer window, as Jose Mourinho looks to fine-tune his team and strengthen his squad.

Here is the latest news and gossip surrounding the club:

 

Raphael Varane

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 11:  Raphael Varane of France controls the ball during the International Friendly match between France and Australia at Parc des Princes on October 11, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Chelsea will look to strengthen their defence with the signing of French talent Raphael Varane, as the player has reportedly grown unhappy with life at the Bernabeu.

The London Evening Standard reports that Varane might be tempted with a move as he makes £25,000 a week at Madrid—significantly less than most of the squad.

Metro claims Mourinho has already begun exploring the chances of bringing Varane to west London and adding him to his selection for the new campaign. 

Varane is expected to meet up with officials from Madrid in the next few days to thrash out his long-term future, as per Metro.

The centre-back only started 12 La Liga matches for Los Blancos last season but was still first choice for France at the World Cup, featuring in five games. 

Bleacher Report's French football journalist Jonathan Johnson recently lauded Varane, saying he will soon be one of the world's best defenders:

It was only a number of months ago that Varane was rated as one of the best young talents in the game, and he has not changed since that time. He is a fantastic prospect who is still growing as an individual. Madrid would be foolish to set him free, particularly into the arms of a rival Champions League club.

Chelsea do need to think about the future, and even though John Terry will be present for the next campaign it quite possibly could be his last for the Blues. Bringing Varane in now would be the perfect addition, and he would enjoy working with Mourinho once again, but any deal would be something of a shock. 

 

Mehdi Benatia

ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 21:  Fabio Quagliarella (R) of Juventus FC competes for the ball with Mehdi Benatia of AS Roma during the TIM Cup match between AS Roma and Juventus FC at Olimpico Stadium on January 21, 2014 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Ge
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Roma have made it clear their highly rated defender Mehdi Benatia is not for sale, dashing Chelsea's hopes of capturing him.

Chisanga Malata of the Daily Star writes that club boss Rudi Garcia is insistent the player will stay with his team for 2014-15. Garcia said, as per Malata: "For me, it’s clear. He’s under contract and he will be a Roma player this season. Fortunately the president makes a point of speaking with the players, he likes talking with everyone—he hasn’t just spoken with Mehdi, he’s spoken to them all."

Benatia's stock has risen in recent times, putting him on the radar of many of Europe's biggest clubs. The 27-year-old Moroccan featured heavily in Serie A last term, playing in 33 games for Roma and scoring five goals.

Benatia is a talent who would fit straight into the Premier League, and he appears to be a player who needs to take on a new challenge. It would take a huge bid to prise him away from the Italian capital, and it seems Garcia is desperate to retain him.

 

Romelu Lukaku

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Romelu Lukaku of Belgium and Matt Besler of the United States compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, B
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We may not ever fully understand why Mourinho never took to Romelu Lukaku, but it seems that the big Belgian striker could be on his way from Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku's loan club Everton are interested in taking him permanently, and they might try and push a deal through this summer.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez recently spoke to talkSPORT about the player and respectably said:

It is difficult to say because he is not our player and I would never be disrespectful in that respect. He enjoyed his time at Everton, he developed as a footballer and we hope the parent club, Chelsea, were very happy with that loan relationship. Whatever happens in the future, at the moment there is not much we can speak about.

Lukaku was effective during his time on Merseyside, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances in the league and also providing five assists.

He would be an obvious signing for Martinez as his club would struggle to find another player of his exact talents, at a reasonable price. Chelsea arguably should have kept Lukaku at the club last year and played him ahead of their average strike force, but it appears it is a marriage destined for divorce.

Lukaku would thrive under the guidance of Martinez, and it is in his best interest to depart from Chelsea as soon as possible.

Now that Chelsea have Diego Costa, Lukaku would struggle to even make the Blues bench as things currently stand.

 

Stats via WhoScored unless otherwise noted.

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